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Supergirl: The Complete First Season (2015-2016)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/9/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/11/2016

When you think of CBS, what comes to mind? I know that I'm not the first one to say this, but I think of it as the "old person's network", as you'll be hard-pressed to find any cool or cutting-edge shows on "The Eye". In the past decade, the only show which I've regularly watched on CBS is The Big Bang Theory and there are still times when I can't believe that a series which regularly references obscure nerd-culture not only made it to the air, but has become a bonafide hit. Therefore, it was quite surprising when it was announced that CBS would be carrying a new Supergirl show. Was the geriatric channel ready for superhero action?

As Supergirl opens, we are told that the planet Krytpon is dying. A baby named Kal-El, who would eventually grow up to be Superman, is sent to Earth. His cousin, 12-year old Kara Zor-El, is sent to Earth as well to be his protector. However, her ship is knocked off course, and knocked into the Phantom Zone. Kara arrives on Earth years later, having not aged. As Superman is now an adult and no longer in need of protection, Kara is sent to live with the Danvers family, who will protect her from the world.

The story then leaps ahead to the present. Kara (Melissa Benoist) now lives in National City and works at the media company CatCo as the personal assistant of founder Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). She is friends with co-worker Winn (Jeremy Jordan), and fascinated by new hire James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). (Yes, a ret-con of Jimmy Olsen.) Kara is also very close to her adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh). For all of her life on Earth, Kara has hidden her powers, but when Alex's plane is in danger, Kara rescues it and soon the world learns of Supergirl. It's at this point that Kara learns that Alex works for a secret government agency which hunts renegade aliens. Supergirl volunteers her services to this group, but soon learns that being a superhero is very hard work.

While movies like Batman V Superman, which are based on DC Comics receive decidedly mixed reviews, the recent television series derived from these comic books are generally well-liked. The Flash and Arrow are doing well on The CW and they have proven that shows like this can be fun, and yet dramatic and that's it's exciting for fans when the shows intersect. Supergirl comes from some of the same executives who work on those shows, but the vibe of the show is somewhat different. At first glance, Supergirl seems very similar to its DC cousins, especially The Flash. We have a twenty-something superhero who has to balance begin a hero, a job, all the while protecting their secret identity. They are both surrounded by a group of people who are there to help them and provide technical assistance. Both have issues with deceased parents and have guilt surrounding this. It even crosses-over with the other DC shows, as The Flash appears on one episode.

And yet, something is simply off with Supergirl. For starters, and for lack of a better term, the show feels too "safe". Sure, Supergirl gets into plenty of fights, but there is a never a true sense of danger. Barry gets his ass beaten on a regular basis on The Flash and the show doesn't shy away from showing him as a bloody mess. The show also places too much emphasis on Kara's romantic life. Is this something which would be important to a 24-year old woman? Of course. But that doesn't mean that we want it featured on our superhero show. It would seem short-sighted to assume that Supergirl is aimed at females, and that the show was intentionally designed to appeal to women, but there's no doubt that it's not in the same league as its brethren. Did CBS interfere somehow? Were the makers of the show told to tone it down so that it would be a better fit with the networks other programs?

The tone is not the show's only issues. It's difficult for a show like this to avoid redundancy, but Supergirl feels especially repetitive. Along with the standard "Villain of the Week" fare, we get a continuing cycle of issues for Kara to face, and they rarely change. The show is also saddled to with too many characters -- Here's a tip, find one solid villain and stick with it. And the show finally lays to rest Superman's nickname, "The Last Son of Krypton", as there are dozens of Kryptonians on this show. And what's up with the fact that only rarely say "Superman", often referring to the character as "him" or "my cousin".

It sounds as if I'm being especially hard on Supergirl, but it really does pale in comparison to its contemporaries. That's not to say that the series is a complete disaster. The characters are likeable, the stories includes some decent twists, and it does a nice job of brining in characters from the DC Universe. But, does it really fit in at CBS? Apparently not, as the show will move to The CW for its second season. It will be interesting to see if the tone changes once it makes this leap.

Supergirl: The Complete First Season somehow manages to always have new clothes despite having a low-paying job on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The three-disc set contains all 20 episodes from the show's first season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 15 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has a notable crispness to it, which lends to nice detail and depth. This certainly rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a TV shows, we get some OK effects here. The "Woosh!" when Supergirl accelerates fills the speakers and we the moderate subwoofer action from punches and explosions.

The Supergirl: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Disc contains a small variety of extra features. Each Disc offers DELETED SCENES from various episodes. Disc 1 has scenes from "Red Faced". Disc 2 offers selections from "Hostile Takeover", "Blood Bonds", "Strange Visitor from Another Planet", and "For the Girl Who Has Everything". Disc 3 has scenes cut from "Solitude", "Falling", "Manhunter", and "World's Finest". The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 3. "Supergirl: 2015 Comic-Con Panel" (15 minutes) is a discussion group which features Executive Producer Ali Adler, Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Jeremy Jordan, Executive Producer Sarah Schechter, Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg, DC Comics' Geoff Johns and Executive Producer Greg Berlanti. "The Man from Mars" (10 minutes) uses the show as a jumping-off point to explore the history of J'onn J'onz. "A World Left Behind: Krypton" (11 minutes) again starts with Supergirl and then goes on to look at how this alien planet has been portrayed throughout the DC Universe. The final extra is a 4-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long